Different denominations of Judaism.

I am not too well versed in modern Jewish theology or philosophy as I am in Christian theology and philosophy. I have read a little bit of Maimonides though. Anyway, I understand Judaism has three main separate branches which would be Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism. From my understanding, Orthodox Jews follow all the commandments of the Torah and follow all the traditions and teaching of Rabbinic tradition. They are what most people think of when they think about Judaism. Conservative Jews also follow the commandments of the Torah and Rabbinic tradition, but do allow for more diverse theological outlooks leading some to ironically hold to some liberal viewpoints. And then I understand Reform Jews to be very liberal and basically the Jewish equivalent to Christianity’s liberal Protestants (Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans in America, United Methodist etc.). I know Reform Jews don’t follow all the laws and have a wide variety of theological plurality among them. I have even heard Reform Judaism allows atheism, though I don’t know or think this to be true. If anyone could give a better explanation of these groups and what they believe and perhaps provide some of the history behind them I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks! :slight_smile:

How complicated all this is! What you say is generally correct; however, G-d is in the details (literally) and it would take a treatise or two to fully compare the three main movements/streams of Judaism (better terms than denominations), and there are other movements as well, such as Reconstructionist Judaism. I suggest you do your own research by referring to Jewish Virtual Library online.

In general, Orthodox Judaism (and there different subgroups as well) believes in the unchangeable nature of both the Written Law (Torah) and the Oral Law (Talmud). However, even here, there are often new issues in society which must be interpreted by gifted Orthodox rabbis (not always in accord with one another) based on the fundamental tenets of Jewish Law, which never change.

Conservative Judaism has a Rabbinical Assembly which interprets the Written Law and Oral Law based on the changes of culture and custom. However, individual conservative Jews are not necessarily bound by the decisions of the Board of Rabbis in such matters. Conservative Judaism believes that the development of Judaism based on cultural changes, while always adhering to the tenets of the Law in spirit as well as letter, is the very essence of Judaism. Some Jews within Conservative Judaism have grown closer to those within Reform Judaism.

Reform Judaism believes in the continual evolution and revelation of Judaism in keeping with cultural and societal needs. It maintains the ethical nature of the Law, including both the Written and Oral Law, but tends to reject the ceremonial nature of the Law as inappropriate to the needs of modern society. There has, however, been a modern tendency in Reform Judaism to rely more on the Law in certain areas, including even the Oral Law, which, for a period of time after its initial acceptance, had been utterly discarded.

Some Jews do not fit neatly into one movement or another. For example, there are Jews, such as me, who identify as Reform but have Conservative leanings. There are also Jews who call themselves Conservadox, with overlapping Conservative and Orthodox tendencies. Still other Jews identify as Modern Orthodox rather than Traditional Orthodox. Then there are the Hasidic movements within Orthodoxy, which also differ in certain ways from Traditional Orthodox. Finally, other Jews have developed their own streams, including Reconstructionism, Humanistic, and others, besides those who are unaffiliated, secular, or cultural Jews.

We do understand that Jerusalem knows the fact that the one true God exist and by existence exists.

Thank you for your answer! :thumbsup:

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